TLO Gets Kinky, Doesn’t Get In Fistfight

…because if you only know one thing about those kooky Kinks, you know Ray and Dave didn’t get on so well. That can happen when one of you is a very talented musician and the other is a bona fide lyric genius force of nature. We fight a lot nicer than those guys, since we’re saving the real aggression for the time we have to punch our way out of town and not look back until we hit the county line. Here’s how we became the great, forgotten Kinks for a night.

One time at the famed Rock n Roll Social at the Model Cafe, Adam and I were speaking with our good buddy and protean talent, Brendan Boogie about his cover up series of shows. Brendan has had bands come together to do everything from Fleetwood Mac to lord-knows-what, just by way of keeping the scene interesting for ourselves and the people who love it. Anyway, as the booze flowed along with the conversation the talk turned to doing a British Invasion night. So right away, you’ve got the Beatles, the Stones and the Who. Oh yeah, and that other band that always seems to draw the short straw. I can’t remember whether it was Adam or I who first suggested it; probably we both caught the same wave, but one or the other of us said, “We’ll do it if we get to be the Kinks.” BAM! Done. So all the sudden we’re curating a deep body of work, trying to pick among the gems, both the hits and the deep cuts, and realizing that we jumped in up to our necks without really thinking about what it would entail to do these songs justice. But we had several things going for us right off the bat: one, we actually feel a kinship to their musical sensibilities; two, there’s not a lot of big orchestration type business to get around anywhere, and three, everyone we told was like, “Oh my god, that’s going to be great! Nobody ever does the Kinks.” And four, I think these guys hold up exceptionally well in today’s hipster-soaked metascene, where everyone knows it all and nobody can be surprised or impressed. Flying relatively under the radar, the Kinks hit that sweet spot of stuff you know, stuff you wish you knew, and stuff you didn’t realize you knew, but damn, they do that one too? And that one! And THAT one!

The show went down in the basement of the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, one of the best intimate rooms in the area. Four bands, four British Invaders. Right off the bat, The New Million Box nailed the meticulous craft and sweet, sweet harmonies of John and Paul and George and Ringo. They stuck to the early years, which I thought was a great move both because that’s the real invasion material, and also because early Beatles always gets short shrift in favor of Sgt. Pepper onward. And also, how are you going to pull off the second half of Abbey Road with less than twenty players? Whatever the case, they acquitted themselves very well, and the crowd let ’em know.

Next up was The Guilded Splinters as the Who, and let me tell ya, that dude leaks charisma. Ink on arms, porkpie hat on head, crazy-ass sideburns springing off his cheeks like wizard eyebrows, and a whiskey soaked voice that pinned the Daltry growl to the Townsend whine without ever losing itself in either.

Our buddies in Muy Cansado grabbed the baton and ran with it, doing some spot-on renditions of classic Stones, again from their lean-and-hungry days (meaning there was no Harlem Shuffle, thank you Jeezus). Of particular note was the powerhouse guest vocal turn by Leesa Coyne on Gimme Shelter. So it’s “grape murder, it’s just a shot away, it’s just a shot away”? You learn something new every day!

By the time we hit the stage, the capacity crowd was amply warmed up, and I’m pleased to say we wound ’em up even further. We kicked it off with You Really Got Me, moved through Brainwashed, Sunny Afternoon, Father Christmas, Waterloo Sunset and Victoria (both featuring Adam Ritchie on vox!), Village Green Preservation Society, Lola (of course), Picture Book, Tired of Waiting, Dead End Street and back to All Day And All Of The Night (which is pretty much You Really Got Me, so we had to split them up in the set). I’m probably forgetting one, but you get the idea. In hindsight, the thing that really sticks out for me about the Kinks is just how varied and diverse their output was, all the while being held together by the drop-dead brilliant wit of Ray Davies’ lyrics. It was a humbling reminder to get busy plumbing my imagination, and not to be afraid of getting weird, or pissed off, or both. And now we’ve got just a few more sick covers to bust out at parties and jam sessions, or if the crowd is throwing beer at the chicken wire in front of the stage.

Read music writer Jim Sullivan’s in-depth interview and show feature here.

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